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Your Healthy Family: Frostbite, watch out for red, white and blue

Posted at 8:09 AM, Oct 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-30 10:14:10-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — While it’s only October, over the last few days the morning low temperatures have been well below freezing, and with wind chill the “feels like” temperatures have been in the “below zero” range.

As we plow toward the winter months it’s a great time to remind you again about the dangers and warning signs of frostbite.

Dr. Tom Waters is an emergency medicine physician with Cleveland Clinic. "Prevention is the key for both hypothermia and frostbite. You need to make sure you wear appropriate clothing; stay dry; keep covered up; keep your extremities covered. Also, cover your face when it's very cold out."

Dr. Ian Tullberg, MD, and Urgent Care Medical Director for southern Colorado with UCHealth has a colorful description of warning signs that you are suffering from frostbite.

Dr. Tullberg says, "You will start looking like a patriot, red white and blue are the bad colors when it comes to frost bite. You can also see some gray in your fingers, chin, toes or nose. You want to get those areas warm before that happens. The problem is you might get some tingling and numbing in those areas, so folks that get frostbite don't realize they are getting frost bite because they don't feel anything because the nerves are completely numb and dead."

Remember the best time to treat frostbite is before it happens. If you're outside and those fingers and toes start getting cold don't wait to take steps to warm them up however you can.

"Normally once someone comes into an emergency room or urgent care unfortunately you can't treat it too well, usually we will see folks a day later, things have already warmed up and you can't do a whole lot with it.” says Dr. Tullberg. “If there is substantial frostbite, the emergency room is a good way to get going with your medical care right away.”

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